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1.4 Ethnocetrism and stereotyping

Ethnocentric attitude takes one’s own culture as superior and evaluates the other’s culture as being right or wrong, major or minor depending on how similar or different it is to his own culture. Ethnocentrism operates with concepts like: “chosen people”, “blessed nation”, “true faith”, “savages” or “infidels” etc.

Theodore Caplow (1971) demonstrated that the number of persons which overestimate the group they belong to is generally eight times higher than the number of persons which underestimate their own group. Ethnocentrism is universal and can be met in all groups or societies.

Although ethnocentrism is universal it can also have negative effects: such as not being able to empathize with other groups or persons, not being able to see the other’s point of view. These negative effects can be overcome through intensifying communication and interactions between different groups.

Communication and continuous interaction can also invalidate the stereotypes which a group has toward another group. Stereotypes are strong beliefs about the psychological characteristics and/or behaviours of another social group (ethnic, religious, age etc). These strong beliefs are “preconceived” in the sense of not being based on the direct observation, often arbitrary and having a simplified scheme of judgment.

In the recent social science usage the stereotypes are mostly referring to negative attitudes toward different ethnics and/or races. Discrimination is the first and most important effect of negative stereotypes.

Read more on:

If you have some time to spare why not check the article on ethnocentrism which you can find at:


Caplow T 1971 Elementary Sociology, Prentice-Hall, New York.

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